Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy 4th!

When Elliott heard the 4th of July was coming up, all he could do was talk about fireworks. Brent's idea of watching fireworks is to turn on the tv and watch the national shows. I'm glad Elliott shares my love of fireworks. Growing up we always went to Tustin High to watch the awesome fireworks display. I loved doing that. It was fun to go as a family and to see the fireworks along with hearing the patriotic music. A friend from our ward sent me a link to all the fireworks displays around the valley. Then another friend invited me to go with her family and another from the ward. Brent stayed home while Derek slept, and I took Elliott to enjoy the festivities. We met at the Norton's house so we could carpool. While there, Elliott and Spencer got to play with sparklers, thanks to a kind neighbor. They had fun doing that. Once we got to the park for the fireworks, all the kids had fun running around and trying to catch fireflies. The only thing missing from the display was the music. It's just not the same when you don't get to hear the patriotic music. We were a little bit away from the stadium where the actual show took place. It was fun to spend time with new friends. Thanks, Tracie, for inviting us to come along.

this is my pathetic attempt to capture the fireworks (my camera even has a fireworks setting - I guess it's still not that good)

Brent asked what I would like to do for the 4th. I said have a BBQ. Of course we don't own a BBQ, so it wasn't an option. We spent a lot of the 5th in the pool. Brent had the day off work, so he was able to go to the pool with us in the morning. That afternoon we were invited to a friend's house for swimming and a BBQ. It ended up being a fun day and I got my BBQ afterall. :)

Since I didn't get my fix of patriotic music on the 4th, I finally broke out the one patriotic CD I own - MoTab - a couple days ago. I had been singing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and Derek would say "Glory, glory, hallelujah." It was adorable. So, I found the CD and let them hear the song. The next day I turned on the CD again, and Derek asked for "Glory, glory, hallelujah." So, I put that song on again. As soon as it was done, he said, "Again." Elliott said, "No way." We kept on going instead. I love patriotic music. We're still making our way through the CD. The boys really enjoy it. Today as I was listening it reminded me of the summer when my parents sang patriotic songs at Knott's Berry Farm with their caroling group. I remember having so much fun that summer. I would follow them around while they sang. I loved it. It makes me happy to hear great songs about our country. I always get that warm fuzzy feeling. When we sang the National Anthem at church on the 4th, I was emotional. It was difficult to sing all the words. I'm glad I have such a love for this country and the things that make it great. I hope that we will continue to enjoy our freedoms that so many have fought and died to preserve. God bless the USA.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

DaVinci Science Center

Here are some pics at the DaVinci Science Center. We've been 3 times and enjoyed it every time. The last time we went with my friend, Emily, and her son, Alex (bottom right of the collage). The first two pictures are of Derek touching a snake. He was brave. Elliott stayed clear of it. Derek wasn't interested in touching the creatures in the aquarium though. The last time we went Elliott got up the nerve to touch one a star fish. That was cool. There is lots to explore. There is even a station that shows you step by step how to make paper airplanes. Elliott made a really cool one and got to throw it down over the balcony (with permission from a worker). It was fun. Hopefully we'll be able to enjoy other science centers as well - whenever we go somewhere, since our membership is good at many different centers.
Check out Elliott's eyes through these goggles. Pretty crazy.

If you can't tell, they are distorted. The goggles are supposed to help you understand what it's like to drive drunk or something like that - impaired vision.
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Summer Happenings

Here is a glimpse of what we have been up to this summer:

Swimming - There is a pool that is free from 9-11 most days of the week. We try to go 1-2 days each week. There are some friends from the ward who also go. They teach swim lessons there as well. Elliott said he thought he should take lessons, so I got him signed up. He started on Monday. He's a lot more comfortable in the water than he used to be. He's trying his best to learn some things and do what the coaches ask him to. He's having fun. Derek is a little fish. He has so much fun jumping and splashing all over the pool. It's great because the pool starts at 2 feet, so Derek can actually stand up in it. He absolutely loves swimming.

it's kinda hard to get any shots of the boys having fun in the water, since then I wouldn't be watching them very closely, so this one will have to do :)

Dorney Park - I decided to get season passes to the local amusement park/water park. It's very similar to Great America (in Northern CA). It's owned by the same company as Great America and Knott's Berry Farm. It even has Camp Snoopy. It's less than 15 minutes away. So far we've visited the water park twice. We try to go once a week. They have a few fun little kid areas. Last week I took the boys on the lazy river, thinking it would be a nice ride on the tubes. Little did I know that there are big waterfalls you pass under. I wasn't prepared for that. Elliott was a trooper. He held on tight to his tube and did great. Derek was crying most of the way. It was really difficult to hold him on the tube as well. Lesson learned, we'll probably wait a while before trying that one again. Every day since then, Derek talks about going on the boat through the waterfall. It's kinda funny.

DaVinci Science Center - We also got annual passes for the science center. We've been 3 times now. The boys really enjoy it. I'll do a separate post for this one.

Library - We have made it back to the library a couple times. The boys are both participating in the summer reading program. They get little prizes for every couple hours that they read.

Playground Program - The school district provides this awesome program for kids from grades 1 thru 6, M-F from 9-1. The best part is, it is completely FREE! He goes to a rec center and they play indoor and outdoor games. The first day Elliott spent most of his time inside and even got a leader to play Yahtzee with him. Another day he spent most of his time outside. It was pretty obvious when he got home. He really enjoys it. It's good for him to get out of the house and have people to interact with. It's good for his social skills. He has said he wants to go everyday. So far that hasn't worked out, but hopefully when swimming lessons are done he'll go at least 3 or 4 times a week.

Elliott spends lots of time reading. I've got to find some good books for him. He's read all the Magic Tree House books tons of times. He's read a few other things, but it's hard to know which books have good content for a 6 year old while still being challenging enough for him to read and not be bored. He spends time playing the Wii and playing Club Penguin on the computer. He also loves playing board games. I taught him how to play Monopoly and he loves it. He also likes Yahtzee, Sorry Card Revenge, LIFE, Sorry, and UNO. We have also worked on his erector set. It's fun to make things that move.

just a random shot in his "ninja" costume

Derek is still obsessed with trains and wants a new track pretty much daily. Elliott is nice to help with that a lot. Derek also loves the Little Touch Leap Pad. We had it for Elliott, who played with it a ton when he was little. We hadn't gotten it out for Derek until a couple weeks ago and now it's all he plays with besides the trains. I think it's actually taken the first choice spot. He caught on to it quickly so he needs minimal help with it now.

Derek's hair was really gross after a super hot day - lots of sweat and pool water will make your hair stand up

I have made time to read. A friend in the ward invited me to a book club. I went last week and it was fun. We didn't spend a whole lot of time talking about the book, but there was lots of other talking. I stayed for almost 4 hours! It was nice to be out with the girls. I've missed that.

It has been fun having so many things to do. I got to the point where there were too many things to choose from, but that was a nice problem to have. We're having fun.

More Random Observations

Cheddar cheese - It is almost impossible to find medium cheddar cheese. I guess they really like sharp and extra sharp cheese here. Weird. Maybe it's time to adjust my tastebuds.

Church bells - It's not uncommon to hear church bells ringing. We often hear them at our house since there is a church just up the street behind our house. I've also heard them at random parks and even when we got to church on Sunday (I don't know where those ones were coming from - obviously not our church building).

Cemetaries - They are everywhere! I don't think you can drive anywhere without passing at least one.

Riding lawn mowers - Everyone has to have their riding lawn mower. I think I've seen 3 regular lawn mowers now. Even people with not very big yards have riding ones. It's a little bizarre.

Wildlife - There are so many creatures here. It's really cool. We always see squirrels, pretty much anytime we're out (unfortunately they make good road kill too). I've even seen a chipmunk. There are also rabbits and geese. We saw a rabbit in our bushes the other day. Too bad we think they're guilty of making a mess of the bark/ground covering stuff in our yard. There is a gaggle of geese that we see almost everyday on the way to take Brent to work. As we drive past the spot, Derek is always on the lookout for them. Brent and the boys actually saw some geese in the field behind our house this morning. There are also raccoons and probably opossums - those I just see as roadkill. That's another thing that's not lacking in this area.

Rules of the road -
No turns from shoulder. That one is really obnoxious. There is an enormous shoulder that serves no purpose. We're getting used to it though.
Left lane must turn left - Isn't that pretty obvious? These signs are all over the place.
Tiny street signs at some major intersections. When you don't know where you're going, it can be a real problem when the streets aren't well marked.

All in all, we are enjoying life here. We are so lucky to have moved just in time for the hottest June on record. It was HOT. But now we've had lots of rain the past few days. It's nice to live somewhere that gets a good amount of rain. We don't think anyone has sprinklers here - at least we haven't noticed any.